It has been one year since I last ran a marathon. Obviously, I’ve run through a marathon four times this year during ultras but I haven’t raced at marathon distance since Frankfurt in October last year.
The Thames Meander Marathon will be my first ‘trail’ marathon. It’s not the kind of trail I’m used to as it will mostly be on river footpaths of varying solidity and it will be flat, and fast. This will also be my first race wearing Hoka One One shoes which I bought specifically for this – mainly in an attempt to lessen the impact on my legs so I can roll straight back into training for CTS Dorset Ultra next week. In fact, Thames Meander is supposed to be a training race and my intention is to back off the pace and drop into something altogether more ultra-paced if I feel the going is getting too tough.
But I know me. I know that I’m sitting here writing this charged with pre-race excitement. I know that I’m sitting here feeling phantom pains where I usually feel phantom pains the day before I know I’m going to race. I also know that my run this evening will go one of two ways: I’ll either hate it and feel sluggish or I’ll float along and feel like I’m ready. Either way I also know that both will play on my mind as I try to sleep! If I’m sluggish I’ll wonder if that’s how I’ll feel on race day (or I’ll wonder if that’s not a good indicator that I’m holding back for the race) and if I experience the floating sensation I’ll wonder if it hasn’t come along a day early (or I’ll be happy and wonder if that’s not a good indicator that I’m in great condition for the race).
This knowledge points to one thing. The Thames Meander was a training race. As of today the the Thames Meander is like any other race! If the going gets tough on mind or body during the race it is unlikely I will willingly drop into an ultra-pace effort. In fact, the opposite is likely and I will try to hang on to my marathon PR pace for as long as possible. In reality the small field suits me as it is practically begging people to race – I’m going to be chasing people down and other people are going to be chasing me down and unlike my two previous marathons where the fields were larger this will actually be a race and not just a quest for a PR. To me that is exciting. I’m looking forward to getting into my focused zone (it’s been a while since I’ve been there!) and to running faster than I have done for quite some time. In a weird way I am looking forward to marathon pain. If you’ve run one you’ll know the pain I mean, the one that fades from memory about five minutes after you cross the line but the pain that pushes you to that line faster than you thought possible.
We will see what happens tomorrow! Gun time is 1000hrs so until my race report I bid you adieu.
Peace & Blessings